INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ZERO TOLERANCE TO FGM: THE GIRLS’ CLUB IN ETHIOPIA CAMPAIGNING FOR CHANGE
Saada* age 10 “I will keep telling people FGM is bad until my twenties if it hasn’t stopped. I will keep on changing people’s minds. I will never stop.”
“I am not alone. We fight this together – girls and boys. Together we’re more powerful.”
- In Ethiopia, 65% of women between 15-49 have undergone FGM and 16% of girls under 14 have been cut
- Save the Children’s support programme has reached 14 million young people, leading 4,000 girls to pledge against the practice of FGM
- Now, girls as young as seven recognise the fatal health risks the practice poses in their fight to end the tradition
- Poignant multimedia project tells the story of the young girls leading the fightback together – in their own words
In Ethiopia, FGM continues to rob young girls of their childhood and girls as young as seven are campaigning to end the illegal practice.
Despite Ethiopia’s commitment to eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2025, two thirds of girls and women in Ethiopia aged between 15-49 have been cut and the practice remains common. Youngest girls are the most vulnerable, in Ethiopia, half of all circumcised girls undergo FGM before age five.
In the walled city of Harar, the Harari Regional State of Ethiopia, Save the Children runs a girls club which provides a safe space for girls and boys to talk about issues including FGM and child marriage.
Now in its twelfth year, the programme helps educate young campaigners about the complex issue through education, activism and drama. Last year, thanks to the support, 3,888 girls in Ethopia pledged not to undergo FGM and six regions across Ethiopia have now set up FGM support programmes.
Saada* now aged 11, was just seven when she prevented a friend from undergoing FGM by warning her about the risks of infection, blood loss and childbirth. Her friend’s parents spoke with her and her family and decided not to go ahead.
“My friend came to me and said she was getting circumcised,” she says. “I was so worried for her. I thought I would lose her because she would die.”
“Her family didn’t know how bad it was. I told her all the stories – if a girl is mutilated, she will lose too much blood, she might get infected and she might have problems when she gives birth.”
When the friend’s family asked their daughter where she had heard this, the young girl told them it was from Saada* “Her family came to my house and we persuaded them not to do it,” she says. “If she had died, I would have missed her so much.”
In February 2019 the African Union launched a Continental Initiative to End Female Genital Mutilation and save 50 million girls at risk. In support of this, the UK Government recognised the need to do more to protect girls globally and pledged £50 million to support the initiative to end FGM in Africa by 2030. This stands in recognition that the pace of progress that has been made over the last decade needs to be seven times faster. A few months later the Ethiopian Government also took action and launched a National Roadmap committing to end the practice of FGM by 2025.
Ahead of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation Save the Children welcomes this initiative by the Ethiopian Government and will continue to work alongside them to scale up progress so that the commitment to eliminate the practice of FGM by 2025 is honoured.
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